Published Apr 16, 2019If one ever needed proof of the old adage "less is more," they need look no further than Sunn O))). Over the course of 20 years, the founding duo of Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley have redefined musicality, crafting songs of immense feeling and magnitude out of comparatively few notes. In that way, Life Metal is no exception, and flaunts spirit that is fresh while also wonderfully familiar.
A particular strain of hope runs throughout the album, which intermingles with the otherwise intimidating magnitude of the band's tectonic sound. This contrast of light and dark is exemplified in varying ways with each of the four world-encompassing tracks. "Between Sleipnir's Breaths" stands with an ascendant majesty befitting the mythological steed, and which is met by the aching beauty of Hildur Guðnadóttir's voice.
"Troubled Air" shocks with its unprecedented opening, taking the breath from the listener while subsequently hypnotising them as the dismal low end is offset by ethereal highs, as though suspending the listener in the air above a yawning void. This contrast between light and dark carries over into "Aurora," though undoubtedly more suffocating.
Closing in fittingly immense fashion, "Novae" perhaps best exemplifies the stunning cover art, thanks to the added auxiliaries of Hildur Guðnadóttir's cello and halldorophone infused into the mix. Various shades of tonal values clash, intermingle, and change in a kaleidoscope of feeling.
Life Metal retains all the traits that make Sunn O))) who they are, yet intertwined with a spark of unmistakable vibrance that lifts the spirit, even in the midst of such abyssal depths. (Southern Lord)